Fifty Years Before
The next night, there was a knock on Azumi's door while she was working on the first of the three scrolls from the new set. She stood up and stretched as she walked over to answer it.
"Ah, you're awake, my Lady," Kabuto said. "Your father sent up some warmed blood for you. He knows how hard you've been working on those translations." He handed her a glass with a dark warm liquid in it.
"That's unusual of him," she chuckled, accepting it anyway. "Wonder what he's sorry about."
"I'm sure it's because you have to take care of the newborns that he made," he smirked.
"Ah, I suppose so," she said. "Thank you, Kabuto. I'll be sure to thank him when I visit him later for his daily taunting." Kabuto chuckled and bowed before backing away and turning to leave. Azumi sipped her glass as she walked back to her desk. Looking over her progress with the scroll, she figured she had done enough to take a quick break. She finished her glass and went down to bother her father. She did not give him a second to say anything before she ran up to him and hugged him from behind. "Thanks for the blood," she said.
"You deserved it," he smiled. "Those translations you did for the first three scrolls were perfect." He turned around in her arms to return her hug. "I knew you would be able to do this."
"I am not even going to ask how you knew," she hummed as she let him go. "I'll just trust your judgment on everything."
"You should always do that without question. Have you checked on your new brothers yet?"
"Not yet. But their fangs are going to start growing in soon so I'm going to teach them how to care for their fangs and venom."
"Good. I don't need their fangs getting stuck from a buildup of venom," he muttered, trying not to roll his eyes.
Azumi smirked. "I don't think we need to worry about that again," she said. "Yashamaru takes good care of his fangs now."
"Now," he repeated.
She hugged him again. "I'll go check on them," she said, grabbing two jars of blood from a heated cabinet and setting them onto a tray with two glasses. "The younger one…" she started, "Mitsuki…" she hummed, "he came down from his frenzy. He shows all signs of stability. Would it be too much to take him around the castle to show him where he lives?" She was sure he was fine but her father was much more experienced with newborns than she was. If it was a risk, she would not do it.
"He should be fine," Orochimaru answered. "But if you see him start to act differently around the humans, take him back to his room immediately."
Azumi smiled and nodded as she picked up the tray and headed all the way back upstairs to Mitsuki's bedroom. She stopped in front of the door and looked between the tray occupying both of her hands and the door. She chuckled softly at her dilemma just as the door opened. "Hello," she smiled at Mitsuki.
"I heard you coming," Mitsuki smiled back, stepping to the side to allow her to enter.
"Your hearing is already strong," she said as she stepped in and set the tray down on his desk. "That's good. This is good progress already. You'll be fully adapted in no time." She opened up one of the jars and poured half of it into one of the glasses, sealing the jar back up before turning toward Mitsuki. "This is for you," she said, holding the glass out to him.
Mitsuki's smile widened as he stepped closer and took the glass from her. He tried his best to drink it slowly and carefully, not wanting to spill any of it. Once he was finished, he handed the glass back to her and found a small towel to wipe his mouth with. "Thank you," he said.
"You're welcome." She motioned for him to come closer. "I just want to check to see if your fangs have started to grow yet."
He stepped closer and opened his mouth, letting her look at his teeth and not protesting when she gently pried his jaw open a little more to check on the growth of his venom sac. A small surprised sound from her caught his attention. "What is it?" he asked.
"It could be because you are still so young and you weren't done growing as a human but you're developing a venom sac already," she chuckled. "It's not a bad thing, don't worry. You might finish adapting before your brother does."
"I can't wait to rub that into his face," Mitsuki said.
"Let's go see him," she said, pouring half of the second jar into the second glass. The two of them made their way to Log's room and Mitsuki knocked on the door.
A few seconds later, Log opened it. "Hello, Azumi," he smiled.
"Hello," she smiled back. He stepped aside to let them into the room and she handed the glass to him. "This is for you," she said. "I am going to take you two on a tour of the castle so you know where everything is and how to navigate your new home. "Then I'm going to go over some basic things you should know about being a vampire. Things that I'm sure you might have heard of before, like not going out in the sunlight, don't eat too much human food, and more things like that."
"We can still eat human food?" Mitsuki asked.
"Yes, but it provides very little nutrients for you and too much of it will make you sick. But I'll get to all of that later." She looked at Log and saw he finished his glass and was already wiping his mouth. "Let's show you your new home," she smiled, holding her hand out for Mitsuki to take. Once he took her hand, she led both of them out into the hall and down the stairs to the main level of the house. The stairs ended in the foyer. "We'll start here," she said, pointing to two very large, dark double doors. "This is the main entrance. We hardly use it. The humans mostly do. You obviously get a good view when you step through it." She turned them around so they could see the full view of the imperial staircase that led to the next level. "Up there is the hall that has all of the humans' bedrooms and any extra rooms we use for people who end up staying with us temporarily," she explained.
"How often do you have guests?" Log asked.
"Not very," she hummed. "Generally we only hold large parties for special occasions."
"What's a special occasion for vampires?"
"Our centennial birthdays and each century after that, engagement parties, wedding parties, baby showers, new vampires being born because believe it or not, that is very rare."
"Why is that rare?" Mitsuki asked.
"Because there are not that many natural-born vampires, which are the only ones that can have children." She looked at them and frowned. "I'm sorry, but this also means you two will not be able to have children."
Mitsuki shrugged. "I'm okay with that," he said.
"I suppose if I ever wanted a child, I could adopt," Log hummed.
Azumi smiled at him. "That is a very positive outlook." She pointed to the staircase that sat in the center of where the imperial staircase met and led up to the next level. "Up there is where we came from, obviously. That's where your rooms, my room, our father's room, and Yashamaru's room are. There are two more empty rooms on that level so should we ever get new members of our family, that's where they'll stay." Her point lowered to the hall that sat underneath the imperial staircase. "That hall is where the ballroom, the sitting room, the library, and my father's office where he has meetings. Again, another rare occurrence."
"A library?" Log hummed as they started heading into the hall. There were a lot of snake decorations lining the hall that he noticed. Azumi stopped them in front of the double doors that led into the library and opened it to let them in. "Wow," he whispered, stepping in and looking around. The library had a second level and all of the walls were only bookshelves, save for a fireplace to the far right which was surrounded by a couple of comfortable seats.
"Everything in here, my father collected over his lifetime," Azumi explained. "Not everything could fit in here so he keeps some of it in his study and even I have a few in my room. Feel free to read anything you want."
"I'll take you up on that," Log chuckled. He made a note to revisit the library on his own time. He followed Azumi and Mitsuki back into the hall and across to another set of double doors. When they walked in, it was a large empty room. Their footsteps echoed as they made their way to the middle.
"This is the ballroom," Azumi said. She spoke softly so the echo was not too loud.
"When was the last time this was used?"
"For a vampire occasion, about fifty-three years ago when my brother turned two hundred."
"Then what else?"
"The humans we have here like to celebrate their birthdays, too," she chuckled. "They use this space to throw their own parties. For you two, we would really only celebrate the anniversary of your turning because to us, that is your birthday. But if you would like to celebrate your human birthday, then, by all means, you are very welcome to."
"You're much more kind than vampires are perceived to be."
"We have no reason to not be kind," Azumi shrugged. "Any unkind vampires you've met were just shitty people. It had nothing to do with their vampirism. People tend to generalize a whole population based on their experiences with only a few." She took Mitsuki's hand again and headed back out into the hall and further down. "This door is my father's study. Both the bookshelf behind his desk and the one behind the sitting area in the library have hidden staircases behind them that lead down to the one lab you will most likely always find him in."
"Hidden staircases?" Mitsuki gasped softly. "That's so cool."
"With a lot of exploring, you'll actually find a few of them in this castle," she smirked. "But for the fun and thrill of discovery, I won't tell you where they are," she chuckled. She walked to the door across the hall from Orochimaru's study. "This is the sitting room. Generally, when we have unexpected guests, we take them there first."
"Unexpected?" Log questioned.
"Nobles from the town that came up here to harass us for things. It's the furthest room from everyone else to ensure the safety of everyone who lives here." Both boys hummed in understanding. "Further down this hall all the way at the end, however, you'll eventually get to a painting of my father, my brother, and me." She led them down the hall to said painting. It was much bigger than the boys had imagined, taking up a large portion of the entire wall. "Behind this, is a stairwell that leads down to my father's labs. It's not exactly a secret because everyone who lives here uses it," she smirked at Mitsuki, "but it's hidden because my father's research is very precious and anyone who doesn't live here doesn't need to know about it." She gripped the frame of the painting and opened it to reveal the staircase.
"That makes sense," Log hummed as they descended the steps. It led them to a hallway that was a little familiar to the new vampires.
"There are four labs, a nursery, and a feeding room," Azumi said.
"Nursery?" Log asked.
"Feeding room?" Mitsuki asked at the same time.
"The snake nursery," Azumi chuckled. "We breed and raise snakes. We are snake vampires so it should not be very surprising. And we have to feed them in a separate room." She looked at them and smirked. "I know you two are very new to this life, but we all do get a snake companion. Would you like to get yours today?"
Mitsuki gasped and nodded rapidly, grinning wide. "Yes!" he said, trying not to jump around.
"How do we choose?" Log asked.
"Actually, the snake chooses you." She led them into the nursery where there were a bunch of baby snakes slithering around the room. "Watch your step. They're learning how to adjust just like you are. Our snakes are very different from the type of snakes you are used to. The way it works is you are matched with a snake that was born or hatched at the same time you were born—or in your case, turned." She pulled them to the middle of the room so they were surrounded by all of the baby snakes.
Mitsuki watched with excitement as all of the snakes moved around him and his brother. "They're all so cute," he smiled. He suddenly heard someone call him cute back. He looked at Azumi who was chuckling softly as she watched the snakes. "Did...you say that?" he asked her.
She smirked and shook her head, gesturing back to the snakes. "One of them did."
"Say what?" Log asked.
"One of the snakes called him cute."
"We can communicate with them?" he asked, shocked. She nodded and he ran his hand through his hair. "It makes sense but it's still...odd."
"I can see how you would think it's odd," she said.
Mitsuki held in another gasp when a small white snake slithered up to him. "It was this one," he said softly, leaning down to pick the snake up. "This one called me cute."
"Tell him your name," Azumi said to the snake.
"Tatsuo," Mitsuki repeated when the snake told him.
"Tatsuo just chose you," Azumi smiled. "Take good care of him."
"I will," Mitsuki grinned, carefully stepping around the rest of the snakes toward the door. He watched as his brother was approached by another white snake. "Looks like you've been chosen, too," he smirked.
Log picked up the snake that approached him and held it close to him, afraid he would drop it from how much it was moving. He listened closely to hear its name, taking a few seconds to finally understand it. "Tatsuya," he smiled.
"These two are brothers," Azumi said, "just like you two. They are going to grow quite big and live for a long time."
"Where's your companion?" Mitsuki asked as the three of them stepped back out into the hall.
"He's somewhere around the castle," she hummed. "Probably in my room. Would you like to see him? I have one more place to show you. We can see him on the way."
Mitsuki nodded rapidly. "How big is he?" he asked.
"He's about eight feet long. And still growing. He'll probably stop at twelve feet. Like me, he's still young for how long he's going to live." She took them up the stairs that led them to the painting at the end of the main hall and then all the way back up to the level where their bedrooms were. "During the day, he likes to bask in the sun but at night, he sits by my fireplace. I only light it for him." She brought them to her room and opened the door for them to step inside.
"Wow!" Mitsuki gasped, immediately focusing on the large snake coiled up in front of the fire.
The snake's head lifted to look at them. He bowed his head before quickly making his way over to Azumi and coiling up her body. "I know, I've been gone a whole hour," she smirked, letting the snake flick his tongue on her face. "He can be a little clingy sometimes," she said to Log and Mitsuki.
"What's his name?" Log asked.
"Naga," she smiled. "Want to pet him?" She moved closer to them, gently holding Naga's head up so they could pet him. Without hesitation, they both reached out to pet the snake's head.
"And he's going to get bigger?" Log chuckled, looking at how much the snake wrapped around her and practically covered her whole body.
"Yeah, and he won't be able to do this anymore," she chuckled. "He's going to get heavier." Naga got off of her and moved back to the fireplace, coiling up. "But his size is nothing compared to our father's snake," she smiled. "Come see him." She led them to the other end of the hall toward Orochimaru's room. Knowing her father was not in there, she opened the door and went in without knocking. On the bed, an enormous snake was coiled up. When she walked in, it lifted its head and bowed to her. "This is Manda," she said softly. "He's about twenty-five feet long." She climbed onto the bed and immediately Manda started nudging her with his head, wanting to be pet.
Log and Mitsuki stared in awe at the serpent, watching as it formed a coil around Azumi, large enough for her to lay in. "Will ours get that big?"
"When they get very old," she said. "When I was a child, Manda used to keep me in his coil so I wouldn't go anywhere. My father used to just find me sleeping in it."
"That's cute," Log chuckled.
She kissed Manda's head and climbed out of his coil and off of the bed. "I'll see you later," she said softly to him. He bowed his head to her and coiled back up around himself as they left. "I saved the best thing for last," she grinned. She brought them to the middle of the hallway to another staircase that seemed to continue from the one that brought them to their current floor. "This is one of my favorite places to be," she told them as they reached the top of the staircase to a glass dome room. It had a three-sixty view of the surrounding area. On one side, the coast and ocean could be seen and on the other side, the forest between the castle and the town seemed like dark nothingness before the lit up, festive town. There were sofas all around the room, mostly facing outward for view-watching purposes in all directions.
"Wow," Log whispered, looking around.
"A few of the humans that live here like to hang out in this room during the day. We can only be in here at night, of course, but it's still a nice view."
"You can see everything," Mitsuki smiled. "This is so cool."
"So, now you know you can only be up here at night. When you see the sky start to turn pink, then it is time to head back downstairs," Azumi started. "The amount of sunlight that can kill you is different for everyone but generally the first rays burn a lot. Try not to get caught in them. I didn't show you where the kitchen and pantry are because they are really for the humans but feel free to explore and go to them if you wish. They're through the hallway to the right when you head down into the foyer."
"Where do we go if we need...blood?" Log asked.
"We have a storage place for it but we like to drink it warm and there are heated cabinets in the labs so we just take it from there. But Kabuto, the man who brought you two here, knows when we should have it so chances are he's already going to be bringing it to you before you even get hungry. He's very on top of that," she chuckled. "Now, as I said earlier, you can have human food but not too much. It'll do nothing for you besides make you sick. Per my father's rules, we shouldn't leave this castle too often."
"Which someone here has a hard time getting through her head," a voice said from the doorway at the stairs. Azumi rolled her eyes, still smiling as a white-haired boy with purple eyes walked up behind her and wrapped his arm around her shoulders.
"This is Suigetsu," Azumi said. "These are my two new brothers. Log and Mitsuki."
"Is this a tour?"
"We just got to the end of it," Azumi nodded. She looked at Log and Mitsuki. "Suigetsu is one of the humans who lives here."
"I hope Miss Bad Influence isn't scaring you too much," he smirked.
"Don't listen to him. He has no idea what he's talking about."
Log chuckled. "You've made nothing but a good impression on us so far," he told her.
"Wait until you really get to know her," Suigetsu teased.
"Time for you to go," Azumi said, pushing him away from her. He chuckled and moved further into the room, laying down on one of the sofas that faced the ocean. "Sorry about him," she said softly to Log and Mitsuki. I'll leave you two to explore the rest of the castle on your own. I was going to show you how to properly care for your fangs but I'll wait until they've grown in for both of you."
"Ha!" Suigetsu laughed from the couch. "Learning fang care from a vampire with one fang!"
"Shut up," Azumi growled.
"Why do you have one fang?" Mitsuki asked.
Azumi looked at him and sighed. "I fell off of a cliff—"
"Jumped," Suigetsu corrected her.
"And lost my fang on the impact," she rolled her eyes.
"For experimentation," Suigetsu chuckled.
"So are you stuck with just one fang forever?" Mitsuki hummed, leaning in closely to look at her gap.
"No," Azumi shook her head, smiling at him, "I'm not stuck with one. My father does modifications and prosthetics for vampires. He is having a new fang made for me."
"Oh, wow, that is lucky," Log chuckled.
"I am very fortunate to be the daughter of a scientist," she said. "I left the rest of the blood in Mitsuki's room for you two to finish before you go to bed. When you're done, you can just leave the tray outside of your door and Kabuto will pick it up."
Mitsuki grinned and hugged her. "Thank you," he said softly.
Azumi smiled and hugged him back. "There's no need to thank me," she said, running her hand through his hair. "I'm excited to have more brothers." She kissed the top of his head and then let him go. "I'll see you two later," she said. "Have fun exploring if you choose to do so." They waved at her and she went back down to her room. Naga moved quickly to follow her to her desk and coil around her. She chuckled softly, letting him do it but making sure she could still reach everything on the desk as she worked on the scrolls.